If there’s one thing we don’t get enough of in our day-to-day life, it’s sunshine and relaxation time. And that’s what makes a holiday so special, isn’t it? Those long, warm days to do absolutely nothing but swim in the sea, paddle in the pool and devour a good book or two? Here are a few ideas about where to go (and what to read while you’re there) if this sounds like your kind of holiday…
A holiday in Cyprus is perfect for those who like a dash of culture with their sunshine, with tombs, churches and archaeological sites to explore. There are plenty of beaches to relax on too. The wild western coast of the island is breath-taking, with deep blue seas and a rugged coastline, so lay a towel on the shore at Porto Pomos for something off the beaten track. Or head to Coral Bay in Paphos for a sandy stretch with easy access to beach bars – it’s busier, but the amenities make it perfect for holidaying families.
So, what should you read while you’re there? Well, consider ‘Bitter Lemons’ by Lawrence Durrell. It’s a memoir of Durrell’s life an English teacher and minor colonial officer of Bellapais – a truly beautiful village near Kyrenia in the 1950s. Pour over the award-winning book (soaking in his descriptions of the Pentadaktylos mountains) before hiring a car to see Bellapais for yourself: it’s a tranquil village in Northern Cyprus with a picture-perfect abbey. You can even pull up a chair in one of the village’s small coffee shops to finish off the last few chapters if you really want to immerse yourself in the scenery and storyline.
If that’s not your sort of genre, skip the Cyprus-orientated books and pick up something ‘of the moment’. Liane Moriarty’s ‘Big Little Lies’ has recently been turned into a popular TV drama, and there’s no nicer place to enjoy a plot this fast-moving than on a sunny beach in the eastern Mediterranean.
For somewhere a little closer to home, why not pay France a visit? France is home to La Cote des Basques, a beach that’s been ranked in the top 25 beaches in the whole world – and for good reason. The stretch of soft sand is backed by rugged cliffs, while the sea is full of surfers who have been coming for the waves since the 1950s. It’s very much a playground of the rich (and sometimes famous), so it’s a great place to do a spot of people watching while you’re working your way through a good book.
But, what to read? Well, if you like to read Classics and will happily gobble up something French (owing to the fact you’re in France), give Gustave Flaubert’s ‘Madame Bovary’ a try. Emma Bovary is one of modern literature’s most complex female protagonists, and while some readers find her utterly frustrating, there’s no doubt that you’ll be gripped by her romanticized ideals of country life and disappointment in her less-than-exciting marriage.
Or, for something a bit different (but set in roughly the same time period, just in another country), how about Sarah Perry’s ‘The Essex Serpent’? Published last year, this is a book that’s been met with rave reviews. It’s occasionally dark, often funny and will have you frantically turning pages while you listen to the waves breaking in the distance.
Finally, Spain is a destination beloved by many of us, and that has more than a little to do with its glorious beaches. From the majestic As Catedrais beach to the secluded shores in Costa Trasmiera, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to laying out a towel for a spot of sunbathing. Popular family-friendly resorts offer a plethora of beaches with restaurants, cafes and shops nearby, but there are lots of quiet beaches to enjoy if you want to get away from it all: particularly if you’re prepared to hire a car and find out where the locals are spending their time.
As for choosing a book? Well, that’s bound to be just as tricky given that you have so many great options. Those who love thrillers or horrors will enjoy Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s ‘The Shadow of the Wind’. It’s crammed full of love, murder and heroism, and the Irish Examiner once said it was moving and funny too. Or, for something published more recently (though an entirely different genre), give Lidia Yuknavitch’s ‘The Book of Joan’ a try. It will appeal to those who enjoyed Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale, and you’ll certainly feel grateful for the beauty of Spain’s charming countryside and beautiful beaches as you finish each gripping chapter.